By Kent Larsen
PBS News Program Looks at LDS Missionaries
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- The PBS weekly news program Religion and Ethics
Newsweekly spent 10 minutes of its half-hour program this weekend looking at
the missionary program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Reporter John Dancy interviewed Elder Earl C. Tingey, Executive Director of
the LDS Church's Missionary Department. President David Wirthlin of the
Provo Missionary Training Center and several returned missionaries. The
program even drew on the film "God's Army" to get a picture of the Church's
The news program discovered, among the well-known facts about the MTC, some
that aren't as widely known. The center now teaches 48 languages regularly,
and has the ability to teach more if needed. It has also adopted
computerized training systems that help missionaries learn both the grammar
and pronunciation of their assigned language.
According to the story, 40% of young LDS men agree to serve missions each
year, adding to the 600,000 that have served to date. The program claimed
that on average each missionary converts 10 people during two years of
service, accounting for the 300,000 converts that join the LDS Church each
year through missionaries.
Five returned missionaries were interviewed by reporter Dancy, telling him
about their experiences and how their faith was strengthened on their
missions. The program also mentioned the film "God's Army," sayingt that it
depicts "one of the most controversial aspects of Mormonism -- missionaries
trying to convert members of other faiths." But the report merely mentions
that this is controversial, staying away from any investigation of why it is
controversial or what others think about the missionary program.
God's Army: Mormon Missionaries
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly 24Mar01 N1
By John Dancy